By Chere Di Boscio
Sick of your daily commute? Dream about quitting the 9-to-5 rat race and travelling to distant lands? Despite what anyone tells you, it IS possible – I know, because I’ve done it – several times, in fact. All you need is a bit of planning ahead, and the right mindset – be open to new experiences, trust that people will help you (they will, more than you know!) and above all, don’t worry: after all, what’s the worst that can happen?
1. Avoid paying the ‘idiot tax’
Learn all about where you are going first, and jot down the normal prices of things are, from food to tipping to clothing. Find out if cash points will charge you in the place you’re going to; whether you can pay for things with cards or cash and whether you can get a cash discount. Learn whether there’s room to barter for goods in the place you’re going. In short, try to avoid paying unnecessary money because you ‘didn’t know better’.
2. Sell, sell, sell
What kind of lifestyle do you really want to live? Are you really going to use all that stuff you own? For example, is your ski equipment really being used? How often have you worn those Louboutins? Are you still hanging on to that orange and pink cashmere sweater you bought in the sales because you might wear it ‘someday’? Now is the perfect time to put any stuff you don’t use regularly on eBay or Vestaire Collective. After all, you can’t take it all with you around the world.
3. Rent out your home
A great way to keep money flowing in is by renting or subletting your space. This will give you a steady income each month and also gives you the security of having a place to go back to should the need arise. Speak to a local estate agent if you plan to be gone for longer than 6 months; otherwise, try Airbnb – they now have a service where you can hire someone to take care of all the work for short term lettings for a small % of your rental costs.
4. Make wise investments – and live off them
If you have any savings, it’s important to see if you can make your money go a little further. Savings accounts are suffering from low interest rates at the moment, so it’s worth taking time to think about investments you could make. If you’re not strong in terms of knowing how to invest money, consider visiting your bank and talking to someone there about low-risk stocks or bonds that could give you some extra income while you travel. If you’re prepared to do the research on your own, investing in FX contracts could be lucrative – while picking the right investment fund could also deliver strong returns. As long as you know what you’re doing, you could use investments to grow the pot of money you intend to use to fund your round-the-world adventure.
5. Live like a local
Whilst hitting all the foreigner hot spots may be a great place to meet like-minded travellers, those places are probably going to be more expensive than wherever the locals would go. Find out where the local food markets are, eat at the restaurants that locals love, and figure out the local transport system.
6. Use technology
If you feel more comfortable getting around by taxi at first, use an app like Uber – that way, you don’t really need to speak the language, and you won’t pay silly airport prices, for example. It’s also simpler if you can be charged by the app directly if you’re short on cash. Of course, this is way easier if you speak the local language – make an effort to learn it through a podcast that you can listen to whilst on the plane, or download an app that will help you translate.
7. Stay on the cheap
When you’re traveling you’ll want to do it as cheaply as possible. One way to save money is by using accommodation sites like Airbnb and HostelWorld. They’ll let you find a bed for the night no matter where you are in the world for a fair price. They’re especially good if you don’t mind sharing digs. Another great option is Couchsurfing, where people open their homes for a couple of nights for free. As well as free accommodation, it can be a great way to meet the locals and find out things to do in the area.
Volunteering schemes can help you stay in new places longer, giving you time to suss out whether that place really is for you. There are hundreds of companies around the world that can organise accommodation and sometimes even meals in return for a few hours work a day. For example, websites such as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, WWOOF, offer free accommodation for six hours a day of labour. The work can involve anything from picking fruit and cooking to gardening and building projects.
9. Find temporary work
You may need to boost your bank balance a little if you plan to travel long term. Finding temporary work can be tough if you don’t have the right papers in order, but generally, you can find some short term work in a bar or restaurant, in agriculture, as an au-pair or an English teacher. If you can get some online work as a social media manager, writer, or online language teacher, that gives you the freedom to work from wherever, whenever.
10. Pack light
Read up first on the weather and common ways of dressing where you’re going, then bring only the essentials: documents, medicines, electronics, basic clothing. Anything else you need, you can probably buy there second-hand.
It’s worth repeating here: lose the doubt. It’s astonishing how many people fear leaving their life behind – even if it’s not making them happy. They suffer from a serious case of the ‘yeah, but, what if….’ syndrome. The question you should really be asking is ‘yeah, but what if I don’t do this? What could I possibly be missing out on?’ Life is short – do what makes you happy. You got this!